Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — The city of Washington came out ahead of anticipated revenues last fiscal year, setting the municipality up for a flurry of initiatives previously thought to be out of reach.
City Finance Director Kelsey Brown said the higher-than-expected revenue and lower-than-expected expenses had no particular cause, but were the result of a perfect storm.
“A lot of it has to do with a lot of the building projects, it’s really hard to predict how many permits will be (approved) and applied for in different subdivisions and things like that,” she said. “And then in general, we transfer in money for employee benefits, for local-option sales tax, for minibus and all that kind of stuff, so that all factored in.”
Excess revenue was high enough to pay off the recently built city hall and fire department building earlier than expected, according to Brown.
“With the balance that was left in the general fund, we were actually able to pay off our building this year,” she said at a city council meeting Tuesday night. “I could not be more excited.”
The council passed a resolution at the meeting capping the city’s general fund balance at $1,000,000, with any excess transferred to the capital equipment fund (75%) and the building and facility maintenance fund (25%.)
The previous policy put the cap at $1.1 million, but Brown said the change was necessary to invest in neglected equipment.
“We really need to build our capital reserves,” she said. “We’ll have a plan to purchase more equipment that’s needed without bonding or pushing things off … now that we’ve got a little bit of funding, we can pull things from our enterprise funds. It will really come together.”
Mayor Jaron Rosien said he agreed with the renewed focus on municipal equipment.
“We’ve had a very articulated capital improvement plan, but the CEP, capital equipment plan, has remained on a separate burner,” he said. “That really needs to be attended to, and this will do that.”
The city also finished the fiscal year with leftover funds from Riverboat Foundation grants. Brown suggested the city allocate that money to a short list of recreational projects: $100,000 to a Wellness Park Playground, $40,000 to a pool sand filter and $10,000 to a soccer field pavilion.
“We tried to pick things that (the Foundation) still would be proud to have their name on since it’s their funds,” she said. “We don’t (need permission,) I am just asking council for that.”
The approved request did not spend all of the excess grant money, but Brown said it was a good start that left the city in a stable position.
“My plan was to carry that over,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to have them on hand if we have something gigantic that comes up … having that emergency fund basically, would be really great.”